Monday, April 18, 2011

No Crystal Stair

This blog was inspired by a posting I left on an author's blog recently. She'd posted Maya Angelou's poem, "Phenomenal Woman."  I hadn't read that poem since college. It was cool then and made me proud to be a woman, but I was in my early 20's. What the heck did I know about being a woman? I'd only been one for about 4 years.

It seems that I love myself differently for different things, in each stage of my life. (Does that make sense?) What I loved about myself at 20, I still love, but I've found so much more to love along the way. Now at age 40 I love things about myself I never noticed or appreciated before (like the fact that my body is flexible, my knees still work, and I have a confidence in myself I didn't have at 23.) It's pretty dang cool.

There's another poem about life and aging that I read with my students at school. It's by Langston Hughes and is a mother telling her son life is hard, but not to give up.

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.

'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
    ----Langston Hughes

Life for me ain't been no crystal stair either. Childhood was pretty blissful, but adult life has been the stairway Hughes described. I suppose I love this poem because it's exactly what I'd tell my son Josh. Life hasn't been easy and sometimes it hasn't even been kind, but I'm not giving up. He shouldn't give up either.

Reading this at 40 I feel like I know exactly how that mother in the poem feels, but 40 years from now I know I'll be chuckling at the younger, limber me and saying to myself, "Girl, you had NO idea!!" 

Copyright 2011 Corrina L. Terry
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  1. Good poem, great perspective! Isn't it great that we can keep learning?

  2. I can just feel the hardship and pain in this poem. I loved it.

  3. This is a beautiful post, Cori, love your honesty in it, your sharing and (of course) the poem!